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Saturday, 10 August 2019

The Legende of Good Women

Of the works of Chaucer's Italian period, the Legende of Good Women is quite well-known. Although the work was left unfinished by him, it well testifies to his literary art as a great master.The Legende of Good Women is a collection of legends regarding some celebrated women, mentioned in classical legends and romances. The Italian influence on the work is mainly perceived in Chaucer's materials, taken from, as noted already, classical sources. Like The Canterbury Tales, this work may broadly be subdivided into the Prologue and the Tales. The Prologue is, however, allegorical and based on the dream convention. The poet, in his dream, has a vision of his meeting with Cupid, the god of love, by whom he is reprimanded for writing heresies against women and drawing particularly the faithless nature of the woman in Troilus and Criseyde. He is required by the god to make a penance by writing in praise of good women beautiful, virtuous and honourable matrons. The Prologue, thus, presents allegorically the occasion of Chaucer's composition of the Legends of Good Women.
The Legende of Good Women

The main matter of the poem, however, consists of the collection of the accounts of loving and faithful women. Chaucer's task here is to tell 'the Saints Lives of Cupid' the legends of those heroines who have been martyrs for love. The poet includes here the legends of such heroines as Cleopatra, Medea, Lucree, Ariadne, Philomela, Thisbe, and others. His objective is to dwell on womanly grace as well as virtue and to emphasize what is the matter of beauty, loyalty and pity in womanhood. Just like The Canterbury Tales, The Legende of Good Women was left unfinished by the poet. Possibly, Chaucer got tired of relating almost the same account of womanly beauty and virtue in each case and showing how good and grand each of his heroines was. 

Yet, The Legende of Good Women demonstrates amply certain distinct marks of Chaucer's literary genius his gift of story telling in verse, power of characterisation, descriptive art and marvel of versification. Finally, the Prologue has a charm and a liveliness, and contains lovely natural scenes.

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